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Black Friday: How technology can help retailers prepare

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Remember when Black Friday was just a day? Well, that’s all changed now.

Over the last few years Black Friday has extended its boundaries to include Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday. This can be attributed to retailers wanting to capture sales opportunities however shoppers prefer to shop—in-store, online, or both.

Since shoppers won’t be piling into stores like years past due to coronavirus (COVID-19) social distancing measures, you’ll need to get creative with how to connect your shoppers with discounted merchandise.

In fact, businesses have been totally reliant on business technology solutions for  nearly every challenge in 2020. And Black Friday is no different.

What core areas should your retail business focus on during the most profitable shopping season of the year?  Here’s where you can leverage technology to increase productivity and make Black Friday both frictionless and profitable.

Black Friday shopper behavior for stock management

Though shopping in-store is pretty much off the table, you still need to stock up for elevated sales.

Look at your data from last year to gauge how much inventory you need to account for in-store sales that will now take place online.

Investing in that kind of insight is important for creating the capacity needed to manage high demand during peak shopping season.

You can ensure you have enough inventory for the influx in demand during Black Friday and into the Christmas shopping season.

Accepting payments for Black Friday sales

Generational preferences and how comfortable shoppers are with payment technology will also factor greatly into Black Friday.

Today’s customer journeys are increasingly varied, and can be immediate or extremely complex, especially for younger customers.

They can range from impulse purchases on shopping apps to lengthier, highly considered purchases involving multiple channels for product research and price comparison – even during Black Friday sales.

You’ll need to integrate the payment process into your omnichannel customer offering for a frictionless Black Friday experience.

To do so you should consider the customer’s expectations at each point in their journey. Then, ensure your payment technology can accommodate every sale regardless of channel or preferred payment method.

Retailers of any size will stand out by offering simplicity, convenience, and durable, well-defined value in their approach to payments.

One in-store example that has expanded among retailers is self-service technology like Zara implemented in 2018 to eliminate their infamously long lines.

We know from a research over the years that consumers generally can be up to four times more likely to complete a purchase if they see a wide variety of payment types presented to them at checkout.

Demand for mobile payments and digital wallets is growing, so it’s worth exploring these as part of your payment methods.

Managing payments security during increased traffic

You should also consider the security of your customers’ financial and personal data, and factor in protection against fraud.

One example of technology that supports this is tokenization. This allows safe storage of your unique card details providing access to the original payment information regardless of the contact point.

Shoppers have grown more willing to use new payment technology. But they’re still concerned about the safety of their personal information.

Research shows 62% are generally welcoming towards added authentication measures for online payment security as mandated by PSD2.

New authentication technologies will revalidate repeat purchases or return shoppers to the website and make their experience even more frictionless.

Hiring Black Friday staff

Even with everything else in place, you’ll still need to ensure you have enough staff coverage to deal with stock management and preparing items for delivery.

Insights from a business management solution can tell you how many additional staff you’ll need to hire. It can also help you with hiring and onboarding and managing schedules.

Adding more staff – temporary or full time – means more payroll admin of assigning employee types and calculating accurate pay and benefits for each.

Doing this accurately will be more challenging during the busy Black Friday season, especially if it’s done manually.

Payroll integration technology with time tracking and attendance functionality can make peak season staffing easier.

Connecting your time and sales data is important for reconciliation purposes, eliminating data errors, and reducing payroll fraud.

Keeping track of this data can also help with planning for other peak trading seasons.

A business management solution equipped with automation can make this easy and error-free for any size staff.

Final thoughts

Black Friday is a fast-paced selling season. If your customer doesn’t get the experience they expect, you might lose a future sales opportunity.

Use new technology for business management to stay on top of cash flow to purchase enough inventory, manage stock across multiple shops and online, manage staff coverage and scheduling, and keep things running smoothly at checkout.

 

Editor’s note: This article was first published in October 2019 and has been updated for relevance.

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